Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Spring? Summer? Frank!

The season is starting to heat up here on the east slope of the Rockies!  The days are getting longer and warmer, and we are well into the beautiful climbing weather of early summer.  Some days it is a bit too warm for climbing hard problems at midday, but the mornings and evenings are fantastic.  Early summer is one of my favorite seasons at Frank Slide, and this year has been no exception.  I've been able to get out to the Slide nearly every weekend, and while I haven't climbed anything particularly hard, the season is shaping up nicely.

I've been plagued with injuries this spring, however.  A few weeks ago, I hurt my wrist moving boulders in my garden (Shelley and I are re-building our back yard; it is going to look fantastic, I hope), and climbing on the wrist is somewhat painful unless I am very careful to keep it in a neutral position.  I also have a slightly tweaked ankle; I sprained it setting for Boulderfest in the early spring, and this past weekend I fell and landed a little weirdly, and hurt it again.  I don't think the injuries will slow me down too much, but I'm being careful.

One of the reasons I am trying to avoid injury is my upcoming trip to the Boulderfields at the end of June.  The climbing community of Kelowna hosts a bouldering festival / competition every year (Rock the Blocs; check out Andy White's blog with all the info HERE), and this year I've decided to make the trek west to check it out.  Should be a lot of fun; the climbers of Kelowna (especially Andy White) have put a lot of work into Rock the Blocs, and I'm excited to climb at the Boulderfields for the first time!

The toothy frowning start hold of Flexion (V5).  A jug lies hidden inside...

Over the last two weekends at The Slide I've managed to do many fun lines; several new problems, and several old problems that were new to me.  The weekend before last Kyle and I spent much of the day in the west end of the City of Giants, trying some fun new lines with Josh Bylsma.  By the time Kyle and I arrived at the Slide, Josh had already put in a solid session on some hard new lines, and he waited patiently while Kyle and I warmed up on some easy lines near El Sendero Tortuoso (V6 or so, Josh did it while he was waiting for us to warm up).  We then turned our attention to a long, angled, overhanging arete.  Starting on a huge hold hidden inside a crack, the line battled up through a long reach to a gaston, then followed a series of good edges to a fun mantle onto a huge scooped ledge.  After several attempts, Kyle and I managed to put it together; it is likely an old Evan Erickson / Kyle Marco problem, but it needed a name so I dubbed it Flexion (V5+).  Josh added a line that added several moves onto both the start AND the end, and called it Extension Extension (V6).

Past the crux of Flexion (V5ish).  Note the heavily taped right wrist...

We then moved uphill a bit to try a new arete that I had spied a few weeks ago, and Mark D. had flattened the landing for.  Unusual for Frank in that it starts on a good jug, the arete would prove to be a lot harder than it looked.  Josh fired it off in just a few tries, but Kyle and I couldn't quite manage the first two powerful moves.  I insisted that Josh call it Welcome to Turpinchistan (it DOES have a pinch in it!), a name I thought was quite funny.  It is tricky and hard, somewhere in the V6+ range.  I added a much easier crimpy line that headed up and right from the start, calling it Crimpistan (V3ish).  

One of the strange, puckered, apple-sized pockets of Monorail Slab.

This past weekend, Kyle, Mark G, Mark D, and I headed back to Frank Slide, with the intent of heading into the Spiderweb Sector.  Spiderweb isn't a fantastic area, but it does have some really classic lines.  Mark D wanted to try an old slab line called Monorail, so we packed up and marched deep into the west end of the Spiderweb.

Mark sticking the lip on Flying Circus. It's an interesting problem; I managed to do it statically when I was able to use a small foothold on the slab.  If you can't make that foothold stick, though, you are committed to either the dyno or a very hard crimp-to-finger-jam sequence...  After many tries, Mark D managed the dyno way, and Mark G managed the finger-jam beta.  Both look hard.

The area proved to be a lot fun.  We started by doing a handful of fun moderate problems (V2-V3ish) on a boulder right beside the Monorail Slab.  Warmed up, we then moved on to climb essentially all of the lines on the Monorail Boulder.  We all managed to do the unusual but very fun Flying Circus (V4ish to V6ish, depending on whether you climb the slab statically or dynamically), and the very cool slab/edge problem Monorail (V2ish), a tallish slab that follows a small incut rail and - you guessed it - a mono.  We did another line between the two, Pucker (V2ish), that features a very cool puckered pocket and a big move to the lip.  To the far right side we did a very fun but somewhat contrived slab that uses two pockets to move upward, and Mark G tried a steep and blank-looking slab, managing to make the impossible-looking line somewhat plausible.

Mark G on his new *hard* slab project...

Packing up, we hiked over to the other side of Spiderweb, where Kyle and I wanted to try the Telekinesis project, a hardish line on edges near The Wind and the Wizard (V5ish).  After my failure a few weeks ago, I wanted to try TWatW again to see if it felt easier, but all I managed to do was almost send the problem... again.  Mark G and Mark D both tried TWatW, with Mark G sending it after only a handful of tries.  Kyle and I managed to make some progress on Telekinesis; Kyle deciphered the first cruxy dyno, and also unlocked the tricky match move in the middle of the line (he's now done all the moves!), and I finally figured out how to do the second crux jump, and also found a smoother way to do the tiny hand-shuffle crux in the middle of the problem.  Its strange how even after two decades of bouldering, I am still finding new ways to become more efficient at aspects of the movement of climbing.  Now that Kyle and I have figured out all the moves for the project, it's just a matter of linking them together... I hope.

Kyle nearing the end of the Telekinesis project.  Fun!

Kyle and the Marks headed back to Lethbridge, and I spent some time with Josh B. trying a hard (!) new problem left of the Telekinesis project.  After he, too, left the Slide I headed over for an end-of-the-day session on The Renaissance (V9ish).  I had made some progress on my last session on it, but couldn't figure out the first move.  This time I focused entirely on the first move, and made absolutely zero (!) progress.  I still have never managed to do the opening lunge, but I recognize that The Renaissance is my anti-style (namely, very small slippery feet, at least for the first move), so it is going to be a battle for me.

After a long day of climbing, I packed up my mats, shoes, and chalk, and headed back to the van.  Stopping first for a muffin and coffee, I turned my back to the setting sun and headed east to Lethbridge.  I'm looking forward to a great summer of bouldering in the Pass and beyond!

Until next time!

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